Complexities in Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide as Perceived by Dutch Physicians and Patients' Relatives

Marianne C. Snijdewind*, Donald G. van Tol, Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Dick L. Willems

*Corresponding author voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

40 Citaten (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


Context. The practice of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) is always complex, but some cases are more complex than others. The nature of these unusually complex cases is not known.

Objectives. To identify and categorize the characteristics of EAS requests that are more complex than others.

Methods. We held in-depth interviews with 28 Dutch physicians about their perception of complex cases of EAS requests. We also interviewed 26 relatives of patients who had died by EAS. We used open coding and inductive analysis to identify various different aspects of the complexities described by the participants.

Results. Complexities can be categorized into relational difficulties-such as miscommunication, invisible suffering, and the absence of a process of growth toward EAS-and complexities that arise from unexpected situations, such as the capricious progress of a disease or the obligation to move the patient. The interviews showed that relatives of the patient influence the process toward EAS.

Conclusion. First, the process toward EAS may be disrupted, causing a complex situation. Second, the course of the process toward EAS is influenced not only by the patient and his/her attending physician but also by the relatives who are involved. Communicating and clarifying expectations throughout the process may help to prevent the occurrence of unusually complex situations. (C) 2014 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1125-1134
Aantal pagina's10
TijdschriftJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Nummer van het tijdschrift6
StatusPublished - dec.-2014


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